Letchworth craftsman saddled with rocking horses after failing to find a buyer

Ray Thorne with his rocking horses

Ray Thorne with his rocking horses - Credit: Archant

A Letchworth grandfather who has spent more than a decade making bespoke rocking horses is hoping to find an outlet for his hobby.

Ray Thorne with one of his rocking horses

Ray Thorne with one of his rocking horses - Credit: Archant

Ray Thorne of Nevells Road created his first horse for his granddaughter Holly in 2000, when she was four years old.

But now he fears he will have to give up his hobby unless he can find buyers for his crafty creations.

The 74-year-old said: “I have always liked making things, I like tinkering about and I know how everything works in my house.

“But it takes a long time and I have had a problem shifting them.”

It all started when he found a set of long-forgotten patterns to design a rocking horse in his attic. He had snapped them up at a bargain price after flicking through a woodwork magazine a decade before.

Having previously built a Wendy house for his eldest granddaughter, he thought it was only fair to make something for Holly.

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But sadly owing to lack of space, his present never reached its intended recipient and instead he gave it to a Letchworth shop to sell.

Since then he has picked up scraps of yew, tinder and oak and made more than 20 horses, but has had trouble selling them.

Each animal takes around three months to craft and is finished with a mane, tail, bridle and brass stirrups.

The design is based on one used by The Rocking Horse Shop in Yorkshire but he has added his own flourishes over the years, creating a different head.

Mr Thorne said: “I just thought it looked silly, so I made my own up.”

The former British Aerospace engineer took up woodworking after he was awarded £250 for working at the factory for 25 years.

He used it to buy basic equipment and then started taking the hobby more seriously after he retired in 1993 and his wife, Jean, passed away in 1996.

He has made bird boxes, jewellery boxes, furniture and “a chair to sit on in the veg patch”.

“I like making them, but I am not sure I will make anymore unless I am asked,” he said, sadly.

Ray currently has two horses for sale – for more information contact him on 01462 676796.

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